This guide will tell you everything you need to know about traveling to Costa Rica during the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.
I recently traveled to Costa Rica in order to complete my Costa Rican residency. I had applied years ago and it was finally time to submit the final paperwork.
I was super concerned about traveling abroad during a global pandemic, and I have to admit that had it not been for the residency I would not have considered going to Costa Rica during the pandemic.
To prepare for my trip I did extensive research on exactly what I needed to know and do both to enter the country and also to stay safe while in country.
In this post you will find the fruits of that labor! You’ll find a list of helpful resources to bookmark, entry requirements, insurance and health pass info, safety tips, transportation info, and Costa Rican COVID protocol policies and exit requirements.
I hope this post is extremely helpful- if you have additional questions don’t hesitate to message me or comment!
Note: This post is geared towards visitors to Costa Rica who are non-residents. If you are a resident or citizen of Costa Rica living abroad, I highly recommend that you visit our friends at Outlier Legal for the latest COVID Costa Rica information.
Need a hotel for your first night in San Jose? I highly recommend this amazing place!
Costa Rica COVID- 19 Resources
Go ahead and bookmark these online resources now, as they all contain the most up to date information on the pandemic. As things change I will also update this post, but sometimes things change very fast and you may need information faster than I get it!
- Visit Costa Rica Entry Requirements Page
- San Jose International Airport Entry Requirements
- United States Embassy In San Jose Costa Rica
- Center For Disease Control Costa Rica COVID Page
- Tico Times COVID Updates (English Language Newspaper in Costa Rica)
- Costa Rican Ministry of Health (in Spanish)
- Map of COVID cases in Costa Rica (in Spanish)
Entering The Country
Costa Rica COVID Entry Requirements
In order to enter Costa Rica during the pandemic, visitors entering as tourists are required to have the following:
1. An outbound/return ticket
you may not stay in Costa Rica for longer than 90 days as a tourist, and upon entering the country you will be required to show that you plan to exit again within that timeframe.
I believe your exit ticket has to be the same mode of transportation as you entered. So you can’t have a bus ticket out if you entered by plane, for example.
2. Traveler’s Insurance
Traveler’s Insurance- everyone traveling must have traveler’s insurance that meets the national guidelines. This currently includes insurance that covers at least $2,000 for hotel in the case that you are sick and cannot exit the country.
Buyer’s beware- most travel insurance does not cover this stipulation. If you do not have the correct insurance, you can be denied entry into the country, or asked to purchase new travel insurance on the spot from one of the approved sources.
I chose to simply purchase the approved travel insurance from the INS so as to avoid any problems (it was also the cheapest for me).
I also know that the INS works closely with the hospitals in Costa Rica so if I needed to use the insurance in an emergency, no one would have to spend a bunch of time trying to figure out what to do before I got care.
The approved health insurance providers are the following two:
INS- Instituto Nacional de Seguro (the national insurance company)
Sagicor (private insurance company)
I am seeing on many forums and Facebook group discussions that the insurance by Trawick International has been accepted. I have not confirmed this myself but I have seen it several times. –
Please note that the price of travel insurance is entirely dependent upon your age, health, and length of stay.
Also note- many people entering on tourist visas were attempting to stay in Costa Rica for 90 days, but only purchase travel insurance for a few of those days. Now, your entry visa will be stamped with the number of days of travel insurance you have purchased. You can be deported if you overstay the number of days you have been approved to stay.
Related post: Costa Rica Weather
3. Health Pass (Pase de salud)
48 hours before arrival to Costa Rica, you will need to fill out a health form outlining your general health.
This requirement used to be coupled with proof of a negative COVID test but this is no longer a requirement. You do not have to have a negative COVID test in order to enter Costa Rica.
After you fill out the health form you will be given a QR code to show at customs and immigration in Costa Rica. I went ahead and took a screenshot of this QR code so that I would not have to rely on local internet in the airport.
Tip: I had all of my documents printed off in hard copy. You never know if the internet will work to access your reservations, and you don’t want to be denied entry into the country.
As you disembark the airplane, you will walk past a digital temperature scanner. If you have a fever, you will not be allowed into the country.
Related post: Coronavirus Travel Tips – Packing Tips For Families
Effect of COVID on Costa Rica and Costa Ricans
The Costa Rican Ministry of Health has created strong COVID protocols across the country, and Costa Ricans are adhering to them at a very high rate.
From March 2020 to March 2021, students have been on remote learning. Many children in rural areas are completing their daily lessons in exchange for food rations.
The borders were closed for months during the pandemic. This greatly hurt the tourism industry and many small businesses in the industry have shuttered or barely stayed afloat.
In the meantime, the government has proposed high taxes, causing thousands of ticos across the country to riot in the streets in protest. The prices of food and gasoline have skyrocketed. Life in Costa Rica is expensive and people are struggling.
I say all of this because I hope that when you travel to Costa Rica, you are very careful and adhere to the safety protocols outlined by your hosts. People working in tourism need the income from your visit, but they also need to be able to keep working. If they contract COVID, they can’t. So please be respectful and extremely careful.
You might also like: All about Mosquitos In Costa Rica: How Bad Are They Really?
COVID Precautions in Costa Rica
Mask Requirements In Costa Rica
Masks are required everywhere in Costa Rica except in private homes. Exceptions that I saw:
- When people were seated at their tables to eat (tables are distanced in Costa Rica right now)
- At the beach- people in the water and far away from others were generally not wearing masks
- In the swimming pools
Otherwise, I saw people on walks wearing masks, in taxis wearing masks, and pretty much everywhere else. Costa Ricans are very committed to wearing masks at all times to keep people safe, and the expectation is that visitors to the country will respect the mask mandate.
Police are allowed and encouraged to give people tickets for not wearing their masks.
Related post: Basic Spanish Phrases For Travel – Costa Rica
COVID Protocols In Costa Rica
There are several official protocols that are widespread across Costa Rica. They include:
- Mandatory temperature checks at the entrances to government buildings, malls, large grocery stores, etc
- Hand washing stations at the entrances to restaurants
- Mandatory sanitizing stations at the entrances to stores
- Mandatory social distancing in lines, in restaurants and bars
- No dancing
I love how seriously Costa Ricans are taking the protocols, but I did get a kick out of these two photos I took:
There are driving restrictions based on the last number of the license plate. If you choose to rent a car, you are not subject to those driving restrictions. You may still get stopped and asked for the rental car papers however- a transit official won’t know you are in a rental car until he checks the papers.
Public Transportation is still running in Costa Rica. Some routes have changed, and you may not always be able to get on the bus you want because capacities are lower.
For all the information on using public transportation throughout Costa Rica, I suggest you visit the Costa Rica by Bus Facebook group.
There is a government imposed curfew between 10 pm and 5 am. You may not drive during this time,
I did see people walking, and we were in a restaurant until almost 9:45 one night and I didn’t see any signs of it closing down quickly.
Many beaches close at 6 pm and reopen again at 5 am.
If you are curious about Costa Rican food, make sure to check out all of our Costa Rican recipes!
Departing From Costa Rica
You will not need any special documentation to leave Costa Rica once your trip is over.
However- you will need to check the local requirements for your arrival. Some states are requiring negative COVID tests to enter, and some are mandating quarantine upon arrival.
COVID Testing in Costa Rica
There are several places to get your COVID test in Costa Rica. This US Embassy has the following information:
Testing is available at Hospital La Católica, Hospital Cima, Hospital Metropolitano and Hospital Clinica Biblica as well as the following laboratories located around Costa Rica: LABIN, Echandi, Laboratorio Páez, Laboratorios San José. The cost is around USD 100, and results are typically ready within 24 to 48 hours. Testing is paid for by the individual.https://cr.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/
Related post: 6 Tips For Clearing US Customs and Immigration
Getting Sick In Costa Rica
Getting sick while abroad is never fun, but in the overall scheme of things, Costa Rica has really good health care.
If you suspect you have Coronavirus while you are traveling, make sure first and foremost to get help immediately so you don’t spread the virus. You can call down to your hotel reception and ask them what to do, or head into a local pharmacy and ask them what to do.
You should also make sure to check the information that came with your traveler’s insurance. There may be local information on there about what you need to do if you have symptoms.
If you are seriously ill, you can go to the nearest hospital or clinic and check yourself in. Make sure to have your insurance information with you or to ask the cost for services in advance. In general, you are responsible for paying for medical services rendered at the time of service.
Should I Travel To Costa Rica During COVID?
The bottom line is that if you are considering traveling abroad during the Pandemic, I believe you can do so safely and have a lot of fun.
Traveling to Casta Rica safely and thoughtfully can have a huge positive boost on the local economy, be a great way to learn about culture and food, and be really really fun.
Only you can weigh the health risks if you were to get sick abroad, but if you feel comfortable with that amount of risk, I think that a Costa Rica visit is a great idea!